My First Rose Show

Last month a rose-loving friend of mine came by to visit my garden and pick up a few extra roses that I wanted to get rid of but send to a good home. After a fun tour of the garden and lots of rose talk, she encouraged me to go to the Greater Palm Beach Rose Society’s spring rose show that was being held in a few weeks. I was hesitant, but decided I would wait and see what the garden provided the weekend of the show and if I felt I had something nice, I would go ahead and participate.


A bucket of blooms sit in preparation for the rose show.

A few weeks later, the garden was booming. Its been the best year for roses in my garden. After so many years, so many struggles and lots of learning, I finally feel like I’m getting the hang of this rose growing business. By Thursday afternoon, I started walking around looking at what might make good candidates for the rose show. I quickly started getting excited and even a little nervous, but the garden provided, so I went forward.

That Friday morning I got up early and grabbed a big bucket filled it with water and Chrysal (flower preservative) and got cutting. I’ve never done a rose show before, but I knew I should cut stems as long as possible, focus on the most perfect flowers and leave anything that was deformed, small or was passed its prime. The show flyer my friend had sent me in the mail had indicated there would be ten categories in the competition as follows:

  • Class 1 – Hybrid Tea, one bloom per stem at exhibition stage
  • Class 2 – Fully Open Hybrid Tea, one bloom per stem, with stamens showing
  • Class 3 – Old Garden Rose one stem, one bloom is at exhibition stage for that variety
  • Class 4 – Shrub Rose, one bloom per stem at exhibition stage
  • Class 5 – Climbing Rose, one bloom per stem at exhibition stage
  • Class 6- Old Garden Rose floating in bowl no foliage permitted
  • Class 7 – Floribunda, one single bloom, or a spray of at least two blooms, at exhibition stage, on one stem
  • Class 8 – Shrub Rose Spray, one stem of at least two blooms, at exhibition stage
  • Class 9 – Spray Rose – One stem with a minimum of 2 blooms at exhibition stage. Any class or variety of rose, except shrub or floribunda, may be entered
  • Class 10 – Most Fragrant Rose, one bloom per stem, any class or variety

Knowing this I kept an eye on which roses would work well for each category and cut accordingly. The roses immediately went inside my air conditioned home and were kept safe out of reach of children and small animals (our 2 dogs). I would have kept them in the refrigerator, but there were no room for my blooms in there, so no luck. The next morning I woke up bright and early for one last walk through the garden to see if there were any more contestants for the show. I grabbed a few more entries and headed for the show.

The rose show was being held at Mounts Botanical Gardens; a beautiful and well-maintained garden, which alone is well worth the visit. Some of the roses didn’t hold up very well and were left on the cutting room floor, while others looked even more beautiful when I arrived in Palm Beach about an hour later.

2017 GPBRS Spring Rose Show

Toro sits proud among other perfect blooms at the Greater Palm Beach rose show.

For category 1, Hybrid Tea, I ended up bringing a couple of Chrysler Imperials; only one of which could be entered, as only one entry of each variety is allowed. I brought 2 large Toro blooms that were quite impressive, and one Peace bloom, which really was not up to standard, but alas. It ended up looking rather pathetic next to the others in the end, but this was all in good fun either way. You live, you learn.

For Category 2, Hybrid Tea Fully Open, I brought a fully opened bloom of Pink Peace it was very pretty, but the stem was not very long and in the end it was just dwarfed by some of the bigger, longer blooms. I could really see now why long stems and big healthy leaves make such an impact.

For Class 3, Old Garden Rose, I brought a few stems of Duchess De Brabant but did not enter any. My bush was in full bloom and had provided many nice options for me to choose from, so I took a few to decide on the best one once I was there. I ended up entering my largest bloom into the floating bowl category (class 6).

For Category 4 Shrub Rose, I had many entries, as shrubs are my specialty and my favorite kind of rose to grow. I brought a very large and very beautiful blossom of Princess Alexandra of Kent, which was a huge surprise because my bush has never provided much in terms of extraordinary blooms. I also entered one very nice, large bloom of The Ancient Mariner, and one bloom of The Endeavor, that was really passed its prime, but was still very pretty.

2017 GPBRS Spring Rose Show

Collette rose competes for best climber.

In class 5 Climbing Rose, I brought a beautiful bloom of Colette (albeit somewhat small) and a very large and somewhat messy bloom of Papi Delbard. The winner ended up being a large and beautiful bloom of Don Juan, which is no surprise as Don Juan is very impressive.

2017 GPBRS Spring Rose Show

Duchess De Brabant floating in a bowl turned out to be the big winner!

For category 6 Old Garden Rose In a Bowl, I was planning on using Duchess De Brabant as I was unsure if Austin roses would be counted as OGR’s or as Shrubs. As it turns out they are counted as Shrubs. I almost didn’t enter this category as I was torn between category 3 or floating the bloom in a bowl. At the very last minute I floated it in a bowl because there were only 2 other roses in the category. It did look very pretty. This must have been the correct choice as it ended up winning best in show!

For Category 7, I brought a spray of Sunflare and then ended up accidentally entering it in the wrong category. (More on that later)

2017 GPBRS Spring Rose Show

The Fairy (large spray in top center) took the prize for best spray rose.

In Class 8, I had 4 entries. I entered a small spray of Sweet Drift, a large spray of The May Flower, and an even larger spray of The Fairy (the winner!) I also accidentally entered my spray of Sunflare into this category when it should have gone in the class above since it is a floribunda (oops).

For category 9, I had no entries

For class 10 I had a few entries. I entered Grande Dame, Princess Charlene De Monaco (which did not win, but did get a lot of attention) and Beverly. All of these were very fragrant and held their fragrance well. I really enjoyed this category, as going around smelling all the entries was my favorite part of the show. In the end Double Delight took the prize and it was well deserved.

2017 GPBRS Spring Rose Show

The 2017 Greater Palm Beach Rose Show

This was an informal rose show. They did not have official ARS judges. Roses were judged by the visitors who came to observe them and casted votes for their favorites by putting beads into a cup for each category. This had its benefits in that it was a lot less stressful for me as a first time participant. It made it much more relaxing and fun. However, I was a bit disappointed in that I didn’t get to learn how the real judging works, nor did I get to meet any real ARS rose judges. That being said, I don’t think rose growing will ever be that formal down here in South Florida, so it may not be a bad thing. There just is not enough interest in this amazing hobby and I plan to change that, even if it’s single-handedly. But there were still so many amazing things to come out of this rose show that I will be sure to return every year.

Not only did I have a wonderful time at the rose show, I got to explore the gardens, take in a pruning demonstration and even joined the Greater Palm Beach Rose Society. Winning my first rose award was exciting, but the most exciting experience of it all was meeting people who were just as passionate about growing roses as I am.

Portrait Of A Rose

I got a new camera and decided to take it for a spin. I’ve always wanted to take really romantic photos of my roses. Some of them are so amazingly beautiful. But like most things, its beauty doesn’t last so the best way to capture them is by documenting them in photographs and other art forms. Here are a few portraits of some of my favorite roses that have bloomed during the best rose-growing time of the year here in South Florida.

IMG_5273Ambridge Rose (Austin) and Pink Traviata (Meilland)

A few more of this duo that so nicely complimented each other:

IMG_5238v2Dames De Chenonceau (Delbard) is my favorite rose.


IMG_5194-v4Papi Delbard: a most photogenic rose. Below are a few more shots of Papi Delbard.



IMG_5345Here we have 3 Austins: Evelyn (left), Claire Austin (right) and Ambridge Rose (top). This trio was so charming that I took various portraits of them.

IMG_5379Quietness (Buck) makes a great cut rose and is also very photogenic.


A few more shots of various bouquets and roses including Cherry Parfait with Margot Koster (top right).


David Austin’s Recommendations For Florida

IMG_0195I recently called up David Austin Roses in Tyler, Texas to ask about a climbing rose named Crown Princess Margareta. I placed an order with them (arriving in early February) and was thinking of adding it to my order. However, I wanted their opinion first, because space is so limited in my garden and not all the Austins perform well in South Florida. They kindly said to me that the rose was not on the list of recommended roses for Florida. To which I replied, “You have a list of recommended roses for Florida?” (Quite enthusiastically) Needless to say, I had to have this list. She assured me that she would send it to me via snail mail that very day (although why she couldn’t just read it to me or send me an email is beyond me). A few days later it arrived and here it is, in all its glory:

Austin Florida List

Many of these I have never grown, so I cannot comment on how they would perform here, and of the ones that I have grown, not all have done well. Some of the ones on my order this year are on this list, and some are not. And I’ve had great success other Austins in my garden, which are in fact not on this list. Florida is also a large state with many different climates. Some of the roses that grow well in Northern Florida, may not do as well down here, so it’s all a little subjective.

Here is a break down of the Austins I have grown:

Abraham Darby: This is in fact a good rose for South Florida. Even though it is susceptible to black spot, its vigor makes up for it. It’s also surprisingly shade tolerant. It will supposedly get large, but ours has remained about 4 feet in the 1.5 years we’ve had it growing on

Ambridge Rose: This rose is new to our garden this year, so it’s somewhat too soon to tell how it will perform. However so far it has done well and I expect it will continue to do so. Ours is grafted on Fortuniana.

Carding Mill: I recently acquired a small band of Carding Mill on its own roots and it has bloomed three times for me already. Only time will tell how it truly performs, but so far it seems to be a profuse bloomer, albeit somewhat susceptible to black spot.

Christopher Marlow: Just like Carding Mill, I got this one as a small band recently and it looks very promising as its already grown 4x the size of Carding Mill. However, it has yet to bloom, so time will tell how good of a bloomer it is. It’s been very disease resistant so far.

Darcey Bussell: This is an excellent rose for South Florida performing admirably and blooming profusely. Ours was grown on Dr. Huey and pretty much bloomed continually for over three years before finally declining (a known problem with Dr. Huey is its short life span here). We recently replaced it with an own root version, which will hopefully live longer. This rose has good disease resistance and can even be grown in a no-spray garden.

Heritage: A good all-around rose for South Florida. It can usually be found grafted on Fortuniana under the name Josephine Land (Nelson’s Roses). This is a good rose for beginners. We have one growing on its own roots and two on fortuniana and all have done well so far. Perhaps not blooming as much as we’d like, but being somewhat trouble free.

Huntington Rose: An excellent variety that should be more widely grown. This rose was the one that really go us hooked on the Austins having performed very well even on Dr. Huey. We recently acquired one grafted on Fortuniana (from K&M Roses) and are anxiously waiting for it to get going.

Jubilee Celebration: This is one of the most beautiful of the Austin roses and has a great bushy growth habit. We had one that did well on Dr. Huey, albeit it was short lived, and now we managed to get one from K&M on Fortuniana. It’s about to have its first flush in the garden!

Jude The Obscure: Although this is on the list for Florida, it has never performed well for us down here. I’ve moved it from its somewhat poor location to a newer location. Although it seems happier in its new spot, it’s still a wimpy thing with only a few twigs. This is the second time we attempt to grow this rose and at the moment, would not recommend it for South Florida.

Pat Austin: This is one of the best performing roses for Florida. Ours arrived as a tiny graft only about 1.5 feet tall with merely a few twigs and within a year has grown to a 4-foot tall bush that blooms admirably. This is definitely one to try in South Florida. We got ours grafted onto Fortuniana from Cool Roses in Palm Beach.

Molineux: This rose has always been recommended highly, but my one attempt at growing it ended miserably within its first year. David Austin Roses in Texas is sending me a replacement in February and we are going to give it another try. This time on its own roots as opposed to Dr. Huey

Princess Alexandra Of Kent: For some reason our Princess Alexandra has never quite taken off. Although it’s still alive, it seems to be struggling and not exactly performing well. I’m surprised to see it on the list, but I’d be happy to give it another try if I could get it grafted on Fortuniana.

Scepter’d Isle: We recently obtained this rose, and so far, it’s too soon to judge how it will perform. Ours is grafted onto Fortuniana and has bloomed a few times, but the flowers have been frail and lacking in petal count due to the heat. This is however not a well established bush yet, so we’ll need to give it time before we can recommend it.

Tamora: This is in fact a good performer for South Florida, although ours is not quite in a good location receiving much too little sun. Ours is less than one year old so we’re hoping it will spring back soon. Even though its susceptible to black spot, and die back, we do recommend this rose for the novice gardener who would be willing to give it a little extra care. It’s a beautiful variety and has a small bushy habit that’s unusual for the Austins.

The Alnwick Rose: This rose performed well for us, albeit it was very short lived when we originally had it (we’ve learned a lot about rose growing since then). We have one on order for this year on its own roots and hope to have better luck with it this time around.

Wollerton Old Hall: This is definitely a good rose for South Florida, being one of the few that has lived for many years despite being grafted on Dr. Huey. It’s not our favorite bloom as it’s low on petals and shatters quickly, but there is no doubt it is a good performer for South Florida. Although it does suffer from black spot on occasion, it bounces back rather quickly and is recommended for South Florida.

We currently have Windermere on order for February shipping, so we hope this one does well for us as it’s on the list for recommended varieties for Florida.

Some Others To Consider:

To my surprise I did not see a few on this list that have actually done very well for me, so I thought I’d add a bit of info on the ones that were not on the list that I have had experience with.

The Shepherdess: This rose has done amazingly and is one of the best performing roses in my entire garden. Even grafted onto Fortuniana, it keeps a nice, compact form and blooms profusely. We consider it a very highly recommended variety for South Florida.

Evelyn: This is one of the most beautiful roses we’ve ever come across and it too does well in our South Florida garden. It has a tall lanky habit that’s somewhat un-appealing and perhaps that’s why its not on the list, but its still definitely worth growing and is a great bloomer. Ours is grown on Fortuniana.

Claire Austin: Claire does wonderfully for me down here. Although her blooms are butter yellow as opposed to white, it’s still no reason to not grow this amazing rose that has great disease resistance and wonderful blooming power. Ours is growing in a large container on its own roots.

Boscobel: This is one that looks promising as well. Although it may be a while before its available on Fortuniana (if ever) ours has grown well in a pot on Dr.Huey and has bloomed profusely. It’s good disease resistance and bloom-power, makes it a good rose for South Florida. You can read more about it here.

Boscobel Springs To Life


A Boscobel rose bloom stands out in an arrangement of flowers


Boscobel, a recent 2012 introduction by David Austin Roses has finally had a nice flush. After a difficult start, many of the Austin roses I ordered last season didnt fare too well. They were all purchased as bare roots and after they arrived, I potted them up quickly in large black nursery pots that I’ve kept from previous rose purchases. That year’s roses seemed dramatically smaller than ones I had received in previous years, but I potted them up anyway and they all took off rather splendidly. It was at this point however that I made the grave mistake of planting them in a new rose bed I had created in the side yard.

The bed was made over an area that was once paved with large stepping stones. I expected there to be soil underneath, even if it was poor quality soil. Yet to my dismay when I lifted the pavers and dug, I was sorry to find nothing but sand as deep as the shovel would go. I dug almost three feet deep in some areas and never reached soil. So, I needed to not only amend the entire bed, but actually remove the sand and fill it in with store bought soil.

To make a long story short, the Austins roses, which were all on grafted onto Dr. Huey, we’re not happy in the somewhat still sandy soil of the new rose bed. After a few months of decline I realized I would have to pull most of them out, or risk loosing them all. Many of my 9 roses did not survive the move. Lady Emma Hamilton died before I could even try moving her. Molineux was soon lost after the move. Belle Story survived the initial move, but later declined and died. Jubilee Celebration and Princess Alexandra Of Kent are still struggling after the move, and I’m not entirely sure they will make it. Gentle Hermione and Geoff Hamilton seemed to be doing ok in the ground so they were left in the bed and both are still doing ok, Hermione actually doing pretty well. Boscobel on the other has bounced back from the initial move nicely and is thriving in a pot on the patio.

This says a lot about the new David Austin releases as they have recently been focusing on introducing stronger, more disease resistant roses and Boscobel is a good example of this. Not only did it bounce back quickly, but it produced an impressive little flush with rather large, full blooms for being such a small plant.

The large round buds opened to reveal beautifully cupped rosettes packed with petals in a most unique shade of copper pink with deep salmon. Each one measuring about 2.5 inches.

We sincerely hope this rose will be available on Fortuniana one day because this one seems like it will be a good performer in South Florida and David Austin Roses on Fortuniana are still hard to come by.

Boscobal can be purchased online through David Austin Roses or Regan Nursery both on Dr. Huey rootstock.